Smithsonian Collections

Yellow cocktail dress designed by Don Loper and worn by Ella Fitzgerald

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Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Description
This yellow and orange cocktail dress was designed by Don Loper and worn by Ella Fitzgerald. The bodice of the dress is fitted with a sweetheart neckline and spaghetti straps. It is made from a yellow, white, and silver metallic woven floral design. The bodice ends at the hip with a knee-length circle skirt below it. The skirt is made from two (2) layers of marigold colored silk chiffon with an underskirt made from a chartreuse synthetic fabric. The dress closes at the center back with a metal zipper that extends from the top of the bodice to below the hip, with top layer of the chiffon skirt slit and finished with a rolled hem, but not attached to the zipper. There is one (1) metal hook at the top of the zipper that attaches around a yellow thread loop and one (1) hook and thread loop closure at the bottom of the bodice.
The interior of the bodice is lined with cream silk satin. The seams of the bodice are pressed open and pinked. Cream woven tape is sewn to the side of each shaping seam with boning inside the tape, twelve (12) in total. At the center front an additional length of boning encased in orange rayon fabric is attached between the breasts. Sweat guards are whip stitched at both underarms. The guard on the proper left side has a white plastic side and a plain cotton side while the guard on the proper right side has two plain cotton sides. The skirt has no additional lining beneath the chartreuse underskirt.
Designed by
Don Loper, American, 1906 - 1972
Worn by
Ella Fitzgerald, American, 1917 - 1996
Date
1950s
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Estate of Ella Fitzgerald
Medium
silk, rayon, and foil cloth, silk chiffon, silk satin, synthetic fiber, and metal fasteners
Dimensions
H x W: 38 x 21 in. (96.5 x 53.3 cm)
Type
cocktail dresses
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification
Clothing-Costume
Exhibition
Musical Crossroads
On View
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Culture/Fourth Floor, 4 053
Object number
2010.20.2
Topic
African American
Clothing and dress
Costume
Costume design
Jazz (Music)
Singers (Musicians)
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions